Diarrhea is a major side effect of ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in cancer chemotherapy. Here, we show that the primary mechanism of ErbB TKI diarrhea is activation of basolateral membrane potassium (K+) channels and apical membrane chloride (Cl-) channels in intestinal epithelia, and demonstrate the efficacy of channel blockers in a rat model of TKI diarrhea. Short-circuit current in colonic epithelial cells showed that the TKIs gefitinib, lapatinib and afatinib do not affect basal secretion, but amplify carbachol-stimulated secretion by 2 to 3 fold. Mechanistic studies with the second-generation TKI afatinib showed that the amplifying effect on Cl- secretion was Ca2+ and cAMP independent, blocked by CFTR and K+ channel inhibitors, and involved the EGF receptor binding and ERK signaling. Afatinib-amplified activation of basolateral K+ and apical Cl- channels was demonstrated by selective membrane permeabilization, ion substitution and channel inhibitors. Rats administered afatinib orally at 60 mg/kg/day developed diarrhea with increased stool water from ~60% to >80%, which was reduced by up to 75% the K+ channel inhibitors clotrimazole or senicapoc, or the CFTR inhibitor (R)-BPO-27. These results indicate a mechanism for TKI diarrhea involving K+ and Cl- channel activation, and support the therapeutic efficacy of channel inhibitors.
Tianying Duan, Onur Cil, Jay R. Thiagarajah, Alan S Verkman
Immunotherapies targeting the PD-1 pathway produce durable responses in many cancers, but the tumor-intrinsic factors governing response and resistance are largely unknown. MHC-II expression on tumor cells can predict response to anti–PD-1 therapy. We therefore sought to determine how MHC-II expression by tumor cells promotes PD-1 dependency. Using transcriptional profiling of anti-PD-1–treated patients, we identified unique patterns of immune activation in MHC-II+ tumors. In patients and preclinical models, MHC-II+ tumors recruited CD4+ T cells and developed dependency on PD-1 as well as Lag-3 (an MHC-II inhibitory receptor), which was upregulated in MHC-II+ tumors at acquired resistance to anti–PD-1. Finally, we identify enhanced expression of FCRL6, another MHC-II receptor expressed on NK and T cells, in the microenvironment of MHC-II+ tumors. We ascribe this to what we believe to be a novel inhibitory function of FCRL6 engagement, identifying it as an immunotherapy target. These data suggest a MHC-II–mediated context-dependent mechanism of adaptive resistance to PD-1-targeting immunotherapy.
Douglas B. Johnson, Mellissa J. Nixon, Yu Wang, Daniel Y. Wang, Emily Castellanos, Monica V. Estrada, Paula I. Ericsson-Gonzalez, Candace H. Cote, Roberto Salgado, Violeta Sanchez, Phillip T. Dean, Susan R. Opalenik, Daniel M. Schreeder, David L. Rimm, Ju Young Kim, Jennifer Bordeaux, Sherene Loi, Leora Horn, Melinda E. Sanders, P. Brent Ferrell Jr., Yaomin Xu, Jeffrey A. Sosman, Randall S. Davis, Justin M. Balko
In utero hypoxia is a major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality and predisposes to adult cardiovascular disease. No therapies exist to correct fetal hypoxia. In a new ex utero fetal support system, we tested the hypothesis that hypoxemic support of the fetus impairs myocardial development, whereas normoxic support allows normal myocardial development. Preterm fetal lambs were connected via umbilical vessels to a low-resistance oxygenator and placed in a sterile-fluid environment. Control normoxic fetuses received normal fetal oxygenation, and hypoxemic fetuses received subphysiologic oxygenation. Fetuses with normal in utero development served as normal controls. Hypoxemic fetuses exhibited decreased maximum cardiac output in both ventricles, diastolic function, myocyte and myocyte nuclear size, and increased myocardial capillary density versus control normoxic fetuses. There were no differences between control normoxic fetuses in the fetal support system and normal in utero controls. Chronic fetal hypoxemia resulted in significant abnormalities in myocyte architecture and myocardial capillary density as well as systolic and diastolic cardiac function, whereas control fetuses showed no differences. This ex utero fetal support system has potential to become a significant research tool and novel therapy to correct fetal hypoxia.
Kendall M. Lawrence, Samson Hennessy-Strahs, Patrick E. McGovern, Ali Y. Mejaddam, Avery C. Rossidis, Heron D. Baumgarten, Esha Bansal, Maryann Villeda, Jiancheng Han, Zhongshan Gou, Sheng Zhao, Jack Rychik, William H. Peranteau, Marcus G. Davey, Alan W. Flake, J. William Gaynor, Carlo R. Bartoli
Adeno-associated virus–mediated (AAV-mediated) CRISPR editing is a revolutionary approach for treating inherited diseases. Sustained, often life-long mutation correction is required for treating these diseases. Unfortunately, this has never been demonstrated with AAV CRISPR therapy. We addressed this question in the mdx model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). DMD is caused by dystrophin gene mutation. Dystrophin deficiency leads to ambulation loss and cardiomyopathy. We treated 6-week-old mice intravenously and evaluated disease rescue at 18 months. Surprisingly, nominal dystrophin was restored in skeletal muscle. Cardiac dystrophin was restored, but histology and hemodynamics were not improved. To determine the underlying mechanism, we evaluated components of the CRISPR-editing machinery. Intriguingly, we found disproportional guide RNA (gRNA) vector depletion. To test whether this is responsible for the poor outcome, we increased the gRNA vector dose and repeated the study. This strategy significantly increased dystrophin restoration and reduced fibrosis in all striated muscles at 18 months. Importantly, skeletal muscle function and cardiac hemodynamics were significantly enhanced. Interestingly, we did not see selective depletion of the gRNA vector after intramuscular injection. Our results suggest that gRNA vector loss is a unique barrier for systemic AAV CRISPR therapy. This can be circumvented by vector dose optimization.
Chady H. Hakim, Nalinda B. Wasala, Christopher E. Nelson, Lakmini P. Wasala, Yongping Yue, Jacqueline A. Louderman, Thais B. Lessa, Aihua Dai, Keqing Zhang, Gregory J. Jenkins, Michael E. Nance, Xiufang Pan, Kasun Kodippili, N. Nora Yang, Shi-jie Chen, Charles A. Gersbach, Dongsheng Duan
VEGF-C is an important mediator of lymphangiogenesis and has been shown to alleviate chronic inflammation in a variety of disease models. In this study, we investigated whether targeted delivery of VEGF-C to sites of inflammation and site-specific activation of lymphatic vessels would represent a clinically feasible strategy for treating chronic skin inflammation. To this end, we generated a fusion protein consisting of human VEGF-C fused to the F8 antibody (F8-VEGF-C), which is specific for the alternatively spliced, angiogenesis-marking extradomain A (EDA) of fibronectin. In two mouse models of psoriasis-like skin inflammation, mediated by transgenic VEGF-A overexpression or repeated application of imiquimod, intravenous treatment with F8-VEGF-C but not with untargeted VEGF-C significantly reduced ear skin edema and was as effective as the clinically used TNF-α receptor-Fc fusion protein (TNFR-Fc). Treatment with F8-VEGF-C led to a marked expansion of lymphatic vessels in the inflamed skin and significantly improved lymphatic drainage function. At the same time, treatment with F8-VEGF-C significantly reduced leukocyte numbers, including CD4+ and γδ T cells. In sum, our results reveal that targeted delivery of VEGF-C and site-specific induction of lymphatic vessels represent a potentially new and promising approach for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.
Simon Schwager, Silvana Renner, Teresa Hemmerle, Sinem Karaman, Steven T. Proulx, Roman Fetz, Alexandra Michaela Golding-Ochsenbein, Philipp Probst, Cornelia Halin, Dario Neri, Michael Detmar
Obesity is characterized by accumulation of adipose tissue and is one the most important risk factors in the development of insulin resistance. Carbon monoxide–releasing (CO-releasing) molecules (CO-RMs) have been reported to improve the metabolic profile of obese mice, but the underlying mechanism remains poorly defined. Here, we show that oral administration of CORM-401 to obese mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) resulted in a significant reduction in body weight gain, accompanied by a marked improvement in glucose homeostasis. We further unmasked an action we believe to be novel, by which CO accumulates in visceral adipose tissue and uncouples mitochondrial respiration in adipocytes, ultimately leading to a concomitant switch toward glycolysis. This was accompanied by enhanced systemic and adipose tissue insulin sensitivity, as indicated by a lower blood glucose and increased Akt phosphorylation. Our findings indicate that the transient uncoupling activity of CO elicited by repetitive administration of CORM-401 is associated with lower weight gain and increased insulin sensitivity during HFD. Thus, prototypic compounds that release CO could be investigated for developing promising insulin-sensitizing agents.
Laura Braud, Maria Pini, Lucie Muchova, Sylvie Manin, Hiroaki Kitagishi, Daigo Sawaki, Gabor Czibik, Julien Ternacle, Geneviève Derumeaux, Roberta Foresti, Roberto Motterlini
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is an autosomal dominant or digenic disorder linked to derepression of the toxic DUX4 gene in muscle. There is currently no pharmacological treatment. The emergence of DUX4 enabled development of cell and animal models that could be used for basic and translational research. Since DUX4 is toxic, animal model development has been challenging, but progress has been made, revealing that tight regulation of DUX4 expression is critical for creating viable animals that develop myopathy. Here, we report such a model — the tamoxifen-inducible FSHD mouse model called TIC-DUX4. Uninduced animals are viable, born in Mendelian ratios, and overtly indistinguishable from WT animals. Induced animals display significant DUX4-dependent myopathic phenotypes at the molecular, histological, and functional levels. To demonstrate the utility of TIC-DUX4 mice for therapeutic development, we tested a gene therapy approach aimed at improving muscle strength in DUX4-expressing muscles using adeno-associated virus serotype 1.Follistatin (AAV1.Follistatin), a natural myostatin antagonist. This strategy was not designed to modulate DUX4 but could offer a mechanism to improve muscle weakness caused by DUX4-induced damage. AAV1.Follistatin significantly increased TIC-DUX4 muscle mass and strength even in the presence of DUX4 expression, suggesting that myostatin inhibition may be a promising approach to treat FSHD-associated weakness. We conclude that TIC-DUX4 mice are a relevant model to study DUX4 toxicity and, importantly, are useful in therapeutic development studies for FSHD.
Carlee R. Giesige, Lindsay M. Wallace, Kristin N. Heller, Jocelyn O. Eidahl, Nizar Y. Saad, Allison M. Fowler, Nettie K. Pyne, Mustafa Al-Kharsan, Afrooz Rashnonejad, Gholamhossein Amini Chermahini, Jacqueline S. Domire, Diana Mukweyi, Sara E. Garwick-Coppens, Susan M. Guckes, K. John McLaughlin, Kathrin Meyer, Louise R. Rodino-Klapac, Scott Q. Harper
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has few therapeutic options, and alternative approaches are urgently needed. Stimulator of IFN genes (STING) is becoming an exciting target for therapeutic adjuvants. However, STING resides inside the cell, and the intracellular delivery of CDNs, such as cGAMP, is required for the optimal activation of STING. We show that liposomal nanoparticle-delivered cGAMP (cGAMP-NP) activates STING more effectively than soluble cGAMP. These particles induce innate and adaptive host immune responses to preexisting tumors in both orthotopic and genetically engineered models of basal-like TNBC. cGAMP-NPs also reduce melanoma tumor load, with limited responsivity to anti–PD-L1. Within the tumor microenvironment, cGAMP-NPs direct both mouse and human macrophages (M), reprograming from protumorigenic M2-like phenotype toward M1-like phenotype; enhance MHC and costimulatory molecule expression; reduce M2 biomarkers; increase IFN-γ–producing T cells; augment tumor apoptosis; and increase CD4+ and CD8+ T cell infiltration. Activated T cells are required for tumor suppression, as their depletion reduces antitumor activity. Importantly, cGAMP-NPs prevent the formation of secondary tumors, and a single dose is sufficient to inhibit TNBC. These data suggest that a minimal system comprised of cGAMP-NP alone is sufficient to modulate the tumor microenvironment to effectively control PD-L1–insensitive TNBC.
Ning Cheng, Rebekah Watkins-Schulz, Robert D. Junkins, Clément N. David, Brandon M. Johnson, Stephanie A. Montgomery, Kevin J. Peine, David B. Darr, Hong Yuan, Karen P. McKinnon, Qi Liu, Lei Miao, Leaf Huang, Eric M. Bachelder, Kristy M. Ainslie, Jenny P-Y Ting
MERTK is ectopically expressed and promotes survival in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells and is thus a potential therapeutic target. Here we demonstrate both direct therapeutic effects of MERTK inhibition on leukemia cells and induction of anti-leukemia immunity via suppression of the coinhibitory PD-1 axis. A MERTK-selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor, MRX-2843, mediated therapeutic anti-leukemia effects in immunocompromised mice bearing a MERTK-expressing human leukemia xenograft. In addition, inhibition of host MERTK by genetic deletion (Mertk–/– mice) or treatment with MRX-2843 significantly decreased tumor burden and prolonged survival in immune-competent mice inoculated with a MERTK-negative ALL, suggesting immune-mediated therapeutic activity. In this context, MERTK inhibition led to significant decreases in expression of the coinhibitory ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2 on CD11b+ monocytes/macrophages in the leukemia microenvironment. Furthermore, although T cells do not express MERTK, inhibition of MERTK indirectly decreased PD-1 expression on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and decreased the incidence of splenic FOXP3+ Tregs at sites of leukemic infiltration, leading to increased T cell activation. These data demonstrate direct and immune-mediated therapeutic activities in response to MERTK inhibition in ALL models and provide validation of a translational agent targeting MERTK for modulation of tumor immunity.
Alisa B. Lee-Sherick, Kristen M. Jacobsen, Curtis J. Henry, Madeline G. Huey, Rebecca E. Parker, Lauren S. Page, Amanda A. Hill, Xiaodong Wang, Stephen V. Frye, H. Shelton Earp, Craig T. Jordan, Deborah DeRyckere, Douglas K. Graham
Immune checkpoint blockade has achieved significant therapeutic success for a subset of cancer patients; however, a large portion of cancer patients do not respond. Unresponsive tumors are characterized as being immunologically “cold,” indicating that these tumors lack tumor antigen-specific primed cytotoxic T cells. Sitravatinib is a spectrum-selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor targeting TAM (TYRO3, AXL, MerTK) and split tyrosine-kinase domain–containing receptors (VEGFR and PDGFR families and KIT) plus RET and MET, targets that contribute to the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. We report that sitravatinib has potent antitumor activity by targeting the tumor microenvironment, resulting in innate and adaptive immune cell changes that augment immune checkpoint blockade. These results suggest that sitravatinib has the potential to combat resistance to immune checkpoint blockade and expand the number of cancer patients that are responsive to immune therapy.
Wenting Du, Huocong Huang, Noah Sorrelle, Rolf A. Brekken
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